Service-learning is extremely flexible and can be catered to meet the needs of most, if not all, classes. While it doesn't always receive the respect it deserves, this pedagogy should be viewed as an essential component of a first-rate education. By applying students' academic skills to community programs and initiatives in which they participate as volunteers, service-learning provides both educational and professional development. In particular, it provides a meaningful and hands-on method for students and faculty to complete course content. The following information provides a brief look into how BCC categorizes various aspects of its service-learning program.
Objectives of Service-Learning
Educators of all backgrounds have various reasons for implementing service-learning. Some of the objectives at BCC are to:
- promote civic engagement, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, and civility
- raise awareness of and solve real, community-based problems
- mobilize students and the community
- create and build partnerships within the community
- provide experiential learning opportunities for students and prepare them for careers after BCC
- excite students about their field of study (specifically science, math, and technology)
- harvest cultural awareness and tolerance of diversity
- present opportunities for students and faculty to work together and foster effective relationships
- enhance campus and community campaigns and outreach
- implement change
Service-Learning Assignment Models*
The following assignment models define the various methods of incorporating service-learning into BCC courses.
- Placement Model: students are responsible for volunteering their services to a specific organization. This model usually offers students with the opportunity of direct contact with beneficiaries or issues.
- Presentation Model: usually utilized as a form of community education outreach, students are required to give presentations or create an exhibit or a display. If students present at or organize a workshop, forum, conference, expo, or fair, their participation might be referred to as Presentation-Plus.
- Product Model: students create a deliverable product to be utilized by a beneficiary. Examples include graphic design students designing a logo, English students writing a grant, or computer science students creating a website for a non-profit. Other projects could entail or focus on research and information gathering, where students work in conjunction with faculty and/or the beneficiary to establish how the results will be used.
- Project Model: students determine and arrange their own service-learning project. The Service-Learning Coordinator is a great resource for students assigned to this model.
- Consultant Model: based on students' knowledge or expertise of a particular topic, they serve as pro bono consultants to fulfill a community or nonprofit's need(s).
- Time Model: students volunteer based on an hourly service component within a course. This can be integrated into and serve as a component of some of the above models, such as the Placement and Project Models.
*For more information about service-learning models, please visit: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
The following models define different degrees of incorporating service-learning into new or pre-existing courses.
- Full Integration: requires that students participate as a condition of completing a course or graduating. This requirement is consistent for all students and provides no alternative. As a required component of the course, a service-learning project might serve as a mandatory stand-alone assignment or part of a larger scale project that the course revolves around. Examples of the latter may include capstone or seminar courses, service internships, or service-specific independent study. If not a specific assignment, service hours might be required instead of the typical class participation or attendance points. Moreover, some schools employ service-learning as a graduation requirement.
- Partial Integration: an optional course component, students have the choice of completing a service-learning project. In many cases, the project is offered in lieu of another assignment – as an alternative to completing, for instance, the less appealing research paper. Or, the project might be offered in lieu of points for another aspect of the class (ie: class participation). More often than not, this model utilizes aspects of the Reward Integration Model (below). Another approach to the Partial Integration Model is offering an additional credit hour (ie: a fourth credit) that allows students to participate in a course’s supplementary service-learning component.
- Reward Integration: courses utilizing this model offer students an incentive for participating in an optional service-learning project. Depending on the project, instructor, and course design, incentives may include:
- extra credit
- dropping of lowest quiz/test/homework/presentation/report grade
- a “get out of class free” pass for one-time use
- permission to use an index card of notes on a quiz or test
Range of Events
Service-learning projects often entail the implementation of an event. At BCC, students create and volunteer at:
- Internal Events: projects hosted internally either (1) benefit the College or service-learning program or (2) are only open to the College community
- Public Events: these events are open to anyone who would like to attend and are typically publicized within the Burlington County community, online, and by word of mouth.
- School Presentations: when students present at local K-12 schools, their audience is specific and no publicity or advertising takes place.
- Events for Target Populations: when a project addresses a specific population, they are typically (1) hosted in conjunction with a specific organization and/or (2) advertised and open to the appropriate population.
By means of the assignment models employed at BCC, there are four general categories of beneficiaries served. Projects, however, are not limited to serving one beneficiary and quite often serve at least two.
- Service to the College: benefits the College or service-learning program
- Service to the Community: benefits the general public or a specific population (ie: senior citizens, school children, homeless people, residents of Burlington County, etc.)
- Service to the Nation: benefits a nationwide initiative (ie: the GLOBE program, homelessness and hunger awareness and outreach, environmental sustainability, etc.)
Service Hour Designations
Service-learning hours are internally tracked as:
- Direct Service Hours: hands-on service to beneficiaries
- Indirect Service Hours: time spent preparing for Direct Service Hours (ie: writing lesson plans and proposals, compiling educational presentations, etc.)